The West coast of the Freetown Peninsula reminded me of some broad sweeps of coastline in the Caribbean. Against a backdrop of verdant forest clad mountains were a string of fishing villages and long white sandy beaches. Potentially this could be a vital arm in Sierra Leone’s tourist industry but the years of uncertainty during the civil war, and the difficult logistics of getting people from the airport to the resorts down here had stopped any mass expansion. In some ways this was good for those of us who had bothered to make the trip, but some useful potential income sources for the country were being neglected. Most of the people who seemed to use the resorts were the expats and development workers who lived in Freetown. Mingling in amongst the exclusive resorts you might find a huge beach party set up by some church or an impromptu rave on the sand.
Jan turned off the main road and dropped through the village of Tokeh to a tree shaded car park. A series of brush huts informally nestled under the palm trees contained a reception area, a kitchen and bar and laid out along the beach were a series of chalets. Jan and I sauntered over to a low wooden table and lounged around waiting for some drinks. I soaked in the atmosphere. After the hubbub of Freetown to the north of us, this was nirvana. The roaring Atlantic was rolling in to the broad expanse of sand, the sky was blue and the relief of the mountains enclosed this oasis.
A couple of hotel guests were settled on the loungers and hammocks out front, a scattering of kids were playing bat and ball on the sand. As our juices arrived the two of us sat in silence and just let the whole place wash over us. Both of us had had trying and busy weeks at the office. It was good just to rehabilitate in this environment.
The sea was not without interest. A small spit of volcanic rocks broke up the sand and was mirrored by a small rubbly island about 100 metres from the strand. The island was connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway and topped by the most straggly ill looking trees.
To the south, a huge party was already in full swing – it was only 11 am after all – and there were kids frolicking in the water while the heavy beat of dance music spread across the land – maybe it was not quite so idyllic as I thought.
Jan was keen to look around these resorts as he was thinking of where he might spend his Easter weekend. We took a look in one of the cabins – it was Spartan but comfortable. He asked for a price list and we headed back to his truck. I noticed in the corner of the car park that there was a rusty piece of red metal. On closer inspection I realised it was a very old British post box, its door missing and its body etched away by salt air but otherwise intact.